Labor Day recognizes “...the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country” which many of us celebrate over a long weekend spent outside with friends, family and barbecue… which may or may not be accompanied by high-calorie foods and snacks you tend to gravitate towards.
Do not fret, friend! And definitely don’t turn down an invitation to an informal affair just because you’re concerned about sitting around high-calorie dishes and beverages which are perpetually tempting your taste buds. Remember those healthy burger and taco recipes I shared a while back? It’s completely possible to grill a delicious dinner your guests will devour while keeping your nutrition in check.
First, let’s start with the go-to grillables for your end of summer soiree:
Kabobs are a simple way to combine your favorite flavors together for a quick grill meal. One take on this could be Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs! Start with boneless skinless chicken breast, add green pepper to your skewer, then douse with a little salt, lime and paprika before searing.
Similar to a salad bar, each person can add the ingredients and dressings of their choosing to make it fit their own flavor profile. Or, you can prep a foil pack in advance if you’re traveling to another party (more on that below) so you can know exactly what you’ll be feasting on.
Downshiftology has a recipe too good not to share! Check out their gluten-free/paleo pulled pork street tacos for a different take on a classic bbq dish.
If you’ll be attending someone else’s party instead of hosting your own, here are a few healthy side dishes you could prep ahead of time and share with the group:
Similar to tacos, salsa is not inherently “unhealthy” either especially when you’re combining fresh ingredients. To make a cowboy salsa - which I guarantee will be just as filling as any pile of nachos - combine unsalted canned black beans, cherub tomatoes, grilled corn kernels, onion and fresh avocado.
Missouri tomatoes are ripe for the picking! Just chop a few heirlooms, slice some fresh mozzarella and basil, then top it all with balsamic vinegar.
While the easiest go-to might be a salad, you could also serve more traditional “fall” dishes - like green bean almondine - tailored for the summer heat. Instead of serving this warm or hot, you’ll end up blanching the green beans immediately after they’re removed from the stovetop, then moving them to the refrigerator to cool off before preparing them for your picnic.
And for all of us with a sweet tooth, here are two more recipes to give you your sugar fix without the sugar rush:
Watermelon, berries, banana, apples, pineapple… you name it, you can mix it together to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth!
Speaking of pineapple, Recipes to Nourish has a wonderful recipe combining it and coconut milk to create a cold-and-creamy treat.
Now if you’re looking for a more decadent Labor Day dessert, then I recommend the banana boat. (Think s’mores, only using a banana as your base instead!) Slice open the concave portion of your banana, making sure to split the peel without completely splitting the fruit. Fill the insides with the toppings of your choosing, such as Lily’s stevia-sweetened premium dark chocolate, strawberries, granola, and/or nut butter of your choice (like roasted almond butter). Then wrap the banana loosely in foil and toss on the grill for a very short time, mainly to be sure the chocolate melts!
Pick and choose, mix and match, or tweak to your own liking - the options are endless! Do you plan on recreating one of these recipes for Labor Day, or do you have another idea you can’t wait to cook-up? Share your favorite healthy Labor Day dishes with us and find out what others are cooking up this Labor Day Celebration!